The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is making sure Vols are safe through knowledge and practice.

On May 15, OEM will hold an active shooter emergency exercise drill around HSS from 6:30 a.m. to noon.

While drills like these are a part of normal campus training and exercise activities, OEM decided to base the activity on an active shooting event this year. The simulation will test how effectively and quickly law enforcement and university personnel can respond to an active shooting event.

“The police will be responding to a simulated active shooter in a campus academic building,” Brian Gard, director of emergency management, said. “We are attempting to create a safe but realistic environment that allows responding officers to practice tactics and scene management of a high stress and chaotic situation.”

While law enforcement practices immediate response at the scene, other campus personnel will stimulate the response to the event.

“Other members of the campus emergency response team and executive team will report to the Emergency Operations Center and simulate the recovery effort that it will take to help the campus community and return the campus to operation,” Gard said. “While the police portion will be simulated in near real-time, the recovery portion will focus on the activities that will be taking place hours, days and even weeks following the incident.”

Emergency management planning specialist Brad Walker will participate at the Emergency Operations Center by providing assistance to emergency responders at the scene.

“I think it's important to have a plan in place to respond to and recover from this type of situation. Having this type of exercise affirms for our campus responders that our process and procedures are effective for this type of scenario,” Walker said. “We have worked with campus responders, local emergency responders, and an exercise development team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop the scenario.”

While active shooting is the scenario for the exercise, Gard said that the focus is more on testing the response and recovery systems to see how they can make the campus safer through these efforts.

“Exercises allow us to determine if our plans will work as intended and help identify lessons learned that can help us improve campus safety and security,” Gard said.

OEM is asking for student, staff and faculty volunteers to play the roles of victims, witnesses and bystanders.

“The exercise will test our response procedures. To do this, it takes a number of volunteers to help pull this off,” Walker said. “We’ve asked for and received responses for volunteers from the campus community. These volunteers will play specific roles during the exercise. Having these volunteers participate will help add realism for the responders.”

While students’ roles are limited in the simulation, Gard and Walker emphasized the need for students to understand why this drill is vital to campus safety.

“From the time they learn of an active shooter, either through UT Alert or firsthand knowledge, to the time the police arrive, they need to know how to react and to protect themselves,” Gard said. “Individual protective actions are the key for all emergencies, (including) active shooter (situations).”

Walker added that the potential for an active shooting situation on UT's campus is possible and that students should know that emergency personnel are available for protection.

“If this ever becomes a reality, know first that they are coming to stop the person from doing more harm,” Walker said. “Second, rely on the training they’ve received as students. The emphasis of the students training is to know when to run, when to hide and when to fight.”

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